There I was, a little eight-year-old wanting to surprise my mom by organizing her cabinets. I climbed up on the counter, sat myself down and took out all the spices from the spice cabinet. Then I looked up at the tall ledge above the cabinets. Curiously, I stood up and reached my hand on top of the cabinets, just feeling around. Dusty, ick.

Then my hand touched an envelope. I pulled it down and found a lot of money. I knew I wasn’t supposed to see that, so I put it back. As I put it back, I felt something else, something cold and metal. It felt rough and heavy and I had an idea of what it was. I knew I shouldn’t be touching it, so I sat back down and kept organizing, never telling my parents about what I had found. I thought that if I told them, they’d get very angry with me for snooping and I’d get in trouble.

As a parent, you want your children to be safe. This may be the primary reason you own weapons in the first place. You may be wondering what precautions you should take when a firearm and children live under the same roof. Kids are curious and as they grow they’ll explore in places they shouldn’t.

A study was conducted in 2006 on the parental misperceptions about children and firearms. There were a group of parents who didn’t believe their children knew where the guns were kept. Half of the kids knew the exact location of the guns and 22% of them had actually touched the guns.

I’ve outlined 8 rules to follow for parents wanting to learn how to properly keep their household safe and secure. If you have other suggestions, comment or send me an email and I’ll add them to the list. It’s always helpful to share information with other future parents.

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1. Keep guns and ammo stored apart

This might be the most commonly known rule, but it’s still important to note.

Having your ammo and guns stored separately makes a world of difference when kids are around. Both ammunition and guns should be separated, and stored in different locked containers.

2. Invest in a gun safe

You may not care about a 2-hour fire rating and how thief-proof your safe is. You’re just looking for some protection against your child trying to get to a gun. Whether you’re worried about a curious child or an angsty teenager, you need to lock up your weapons and make them inaccessible to children.

Think back to when you were a kid. How curious were you? I remember trying to crack codes in my spare time. Sitting with the TV remote trying to crack the parental lock on MTV. (yes, I was extremely sheltered.) Don’t put this past your children. They might just try to press various codes just to see what’s in the safe.

Keep your weapons locked in a secure safe. This may cost a few hundred dollars if you own multiple guns, and it could cost more if you own long guns and are looking for more security than just ‘child-proofing’.

3. Add gun locks to each firearm

If you’re saving up for that safe, in the interim you should add a gun lock to each firearm. This device will make the gun inoperable. You cannot load it or fire it. Don’t substitute this for a safe, though, this is just an added security step while you are saving up for the real gun safe.

4. Secure your carry pistol

Defending yourself and family is important. Although the rules I’ve outlined above are vital, they aren’t perfect for the case of defense. Getting ammo out of one lock box and getting your gun out of a different safe isn’t something that can be done quickly when you sense danger.

You may want to have a gun safe for storage, but if you have a firearm you carry daily or have pistols scattered around in various rooms for quick protection, you will need a quick access gun safe for those cases. If you want to keep a loaded gun near you, think about investing in a single pistol quick access safe. Put one in the bedroom, kitchen and family room if you want ample defense around the home or in your car.

Many of these safes come with tamper indicators, so you can know if your child has tried accessing them. Biometric safes are perfect for this because kids won’t be able to try combinations to get in, it will only open with an authorized fingerprint.

RFID gun safes are getting more popular as well, although you will need to wear a bracelet in order to activate it. This could get cumbersome if you don’t like wearing accessories or just remembering to have to wear it.

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5. Get on the same page with your partner

After you’ve secured all the weapons and ammo, you’ve accomplished the first half. The second half of the rules are focused on education. First, you’ll need to get on the same page with your partner. Make sure that you are both going to approach it the same way, and at the same pace based on the child.

You’ll want to make sure you are both comfortable with the steps you will take to teach your child about gun safety. Approaching this as a team effort will ensure consistency of the child’s training, which will ultimately lead to success.

Remember, even if you have all of your guns locked up, you don’t know the situation in your child’s friend’s homes. You might be safe parents, but there’s no guarantee at other households. Making sure your child understands what to do if they ever come across a gun is an important step to ensuring their safety.

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6. Teach the child basic rules when he or she ready.

You know your child best. There isn’t a perfect age to determine when a child should first be exposed to a gun. Once you and your partner agree on an age, you will want to sit down with your child and explain the basic rules to them. The NRA offers a program directed towards kids called the Eddie Eagle program.

They have 4 phrases to recite with a child. These phrases are to help the kids remember what to do if they come across a gun.

  • Stop!
  • Don’t Touch
  • Run
  • Tell a grown up

Having your child recite these rules while exposing them to a gun can help them remember what to do if they ever end up in that situation. Explain to them that even if they aren’t sure if it’s a toy or a real gun, they should still get a grown-up. Some of this might go over their heads if they are too young, but nevertheless, you should begin this gun safety when you feel it is right.

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7. Teach them the difference between a toy gun and a weapon

There is controversy about toy guns, but this can be a great teaching tool. Kids have toy ovens, toy cars, and toy knives yet they can understand the difference between toys and the real things.

Kids are smart. They can grasp that real guns get treated with respect and toy guns get treated as toys. They can sense the seriousness that you project when teaching them and know the difference.

When it comes to toy guns like airsoft and paintball guns, use your discretion. This can blur the lines between real weapons and toys. It may lead to bad habits with gun handling if you don’t reinforce the importance of safety. This is up to you as a parent on how you want to handle these types of toys for your older children.

8. Run through scenarios

Give your child scenarios and ask what they should do in each one. Do this on different occasions so that you are constantly reinforcing the right behavior in your child and they won’t forget over time. This is something that should be practiced every so often.


Here are some examples:

-You are playing in the garage with Billy and you open the cabinet to get your super soakers. You see a black gun that doesn’t look like a super soaker. You really want to pick it up. What should you do?

-You are at your friend’s house and he says he’s found something cool. He takes you to his dad’s library and opens a drawer. He pulls out his daddy’s gun and says, “Here, now you hold it.” What do you do?

You also want a positive example to explain the difference. Something like:

-Mommy came home from shooting at the range. She is at the kitchen table cleaning out her guns. She asks you to sit next to her and look at the guns. What should you do?

 

I hope that you will apply these 8 rules to your own parenting. Teach your kids about the reality of guns and the reality of what they do. Keep your guns safely secured so that you can trust your kids won’t stumble upon them.

And feel free to comment below with other helpful rules. How did you teach your children?

Leave a Comment:

4 comments
Megan Earl says August 31, 2016

My husband LOVES guns, and I know that we will always have at least one in my house. Therefore, it’s really important to me that my kids know about gun safety. I really like your tip about keeping guns and ammo stored separately. Just because kids know how to use a gun, doesn’t mean that they should have access to one and know where the ammo is stored.

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    Lauren says September 1, 2016

    You’re totally right. Kids are curious and it’s important to make sure that if they stumble upon a weapon, they won’t be able to injure themselves. Keeping guns and ammo stored separately is vital!

    Reply
Gary Fretwell says May 18, 2017

I LOVE your 8th point. If you can role-play and run through different scenarios with your children on how to react when they see a firearm at home, at a friend’s house, laying around in public, etc. they won’t have to think twice before dealing with the situation safely. One thing I’m most fearful of is not how my kids will gain access to my guns at home (they are always locked down) but the negligence of their friends’ parents. Teaching your kid how to boldly stop a friend who is playing with an actual firearm that their parents left out is absolutely essential to your child’s safety. I actually wrote an article like this one and it touches some of the same points with more emphasis on the child’s expereince – http://www.goshootguns.com/gun-safety-for-kids/. Let me know what you think.

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Katie Dunn says September 30, 2017

My husband and I have been thinking about teaching our kids about gun safety lately, because they’ve been playing at a friend’s house and I know that their dad has a rifle at home. Because of this, I definitely want to teach my kids to stop, not touch, run and tell a grown up. Now, I’m sure their friend’s dad has the weapon locked away, but their knowing how to handle such situations would make me feel a lot better about it.

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